‘Why can’t Minden keep a proper grocery store?’
In the first years of the 21st Century, prosperity seemed like something worth taking the time to plan for.
A half-dozen housing projects would fill in Minden between Highway 395 and Muller Lane. Someone even took a chance on the property southeast of the intersection of highways 395 and 88 for a lifestyle center.
Gardnerville also seemed poised to take off, with residential and commercial developments proposed for its northern flank.
Minden and Gardnerville are updating the plans for prosperity for inclusion in the Douglas County Master Plan.
Minden’s plan was first approved in October 2002, with Gardnerville following suit three years later.
Last week, at a workshop on the plans, consultant Bruce Race talked about the towns and what had occurred since the originals were put together.
“Why doesn’t Minden have a proper grocery store?” he asked. “It has the busiest intersection in the entire Valley and it’s vacant. It was a priority in the plan 17 years ago.”
Muller Lane Parkway was also a priority at the turn of the century.
“This has been a topic, since I showed up nearly 20 years ago,” he said. “Are we going to build Muller Parkway, is it a parkway, is it a local street?”
He pointed out that 57 percent of Douglas County residents leave the county to go to work.
“About 54 percent of our workforce comes from outside the county,” he said. “So half the county is going back and forth and you wonder why Highway 395 is so busy?”
According to the U.S. Census, Douglas County experienced a 13.91 percent growth rate between 2000 and 2010, adding 5,738 people for a population of 46,997.
The 2020 Census probably won’t show quite so large an increase, thanks in part to the Great Recession.
According to figures released by the Nevada Demographer, the county is expected to have 48,889 residents in 2020, which would be a 3.86 percent decrease.
Race pointed out that one key area the towns can control is their service boundaries.
“Those boundaries are all over the place,” he said. “They don’t line up. You need to think about that to anticipate that any infrastructure you need is built out.”
He said he tells his students that in 2050, they will still be younger than he is now.
“For young families here now, that will be their future,” he said. “They’ll go ‘man 25 years ago I really wish we had thought about this happening.’”
He asked listeners to walk down Esmeralda Avenue in their minds.
“There is a fair amount of vacancy in Minden,” he said. “There’s the corner bar and an antique shop. A vacant office, a casino that’s indoor organized and the county building. That’s not the main street imagined at the workshops 16 years ago.”
He pointed out that Gardnerville has put some effort into its downtown, with fewer vacancies, and some sprucing up.
Better visibility in Gardnerville may have contributed to that.
The economy is one of the key factors in approving workforce housing, Race said.
He said the county’s debate over increasing multi-family housing in the master plan should have come after economic development.
“They should have talked about it last,” he said. “That’s the tail wagging the dog, because really housing is an economic development discussion. Who’s working here, who’s going to work here in the future.”
Master plan amendments approved last year tripled the amount of multi-family housing from 20 acres to just over 65.
A citizens advisory committee is helping to update the plans for prosperity.